Beijing takes inspiration from US on ways to manage public lands

World Today

Beijing takes inspiration from U.S. on ways to manage public lands

The national parks in the United States are often called “America’s best idea,” and they are now serving as a model for China. Beijing has been working closely with the U.S. on ways to better manage public lands in China.

CGTN’s Mary MacCarthy reports on what American officials are doing to keep the park service strong, 100 years after it was established.

In Colorado, public lands are a source of pride.

“They exemplify democracy,” said Colorado State Representative Diane Mitsch Bush. “Everybody can go to our public lands. Nobody owns our public lands. All of us do.”

Colorado lawmaker Diane Mitsch Bush says national parks and other public lands are valuable to local residents, as well as the tourism and farming industries.

“Public lands are critical for our ability to get away from the hassles and stresses of daily life,” said Bush. “But they are also essential for our economy.”

The U.S. Park Service is responsible for nearly 60 national parks and hundreds of other sites with an annual budget of more than two-and-a-half billion dollars. Spreading the cost of maintaining these places has been key to their success. That’s one of the lessons the U.S. is sharing with China and other nations as part of an international cooperation initiative.

“We continue to refine, and share with our colleagues in China and overseas, that balance of sharing costs with the local community and the private sector,” said the U.S. Park Service’s International Cooperation Specialist, Rudy D’Alessandro.

The Park Service has been advising China’s State Planning Commission for the past two years on an array of issues, including ways to better promote its parks.

“We felt that was in need of improvement–the storytelling—which we call park interpretation, and that’s something where you can inspire your visitors,” said D’Alessandro.

The Park Service says that strategy has paid off in the U.S., and China is studying the results closely.

U.S. national parks welcomed a record number of visitors last year, some 325 million people from around the globe. Environmental advocates say they hope China models access to public lands on the U.S. system.

“They’re places that are not set aside for the wealthy. They really are truly for everybody,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Associate Director for Sierra Club Outdoors. “The best way to maintain a long-term constituency for our national parks and our public lands is to connect people to them.”

But China could have a mountain to climb. The U.S. Park Service says it’s still honing its strategy for managing U.S. public lands more than a century after its founding.

Bob Tansey of the Nature Conservancy discusses China’s plans for a national park system by 2020

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Bob Tansey, senior advisor at The Nature Conservancy, about China’s plans for a national park network by 2020